Old 10-21-2019, 01:25 PM   #1
solarfall
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Default Emulating Analog Summing Box ITB

Hello,
these days i'm obsessed with this idea of approximating the sound of analog summing in the box.

First off, why bother with analog summing? Well, after long research i came to the conclusion that NO, analog summing will not make your bad tracks sound better. The only thing analog summing does is it helps you take better mixing decision and work faster.

So, how to emulate analog summing in Reaper? I have an idea but let's try first to brainstorm about the characteristics of analog summing "sound".

Things like extended width, clarity, separation, punch, fatness, smoothing, rounding.

So what does analog summing "does" technically? It subtly adds imperfections, basically. Different frequency response between left/right channels, different phase response. Also, it degrades the signal to a certain extent. And it adds subtle harmonic distortion. All this is sublty different for every channel.

So, it all comes down to: stereo image, filtering, saturation/distortion. ITB we have EQ, Waveshaping, stereo imaging plugins.

I'll try to create a 16 channels (Dangerous 2Bus+ style) summing mixer inside Reaper. Anyone interested? Suggestions about which plugins to use?
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Old 10-21-2019, 01:38 PM   #2
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Or you could just use AirWindows Console
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Old 10-21-2019, 01:54 PM   #3
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there's a console6 now

To the OP, you didn't answer your own question: why bother in the first place? I'm genuinely curious what the consensus is on that exact question because it seems like we are all chasing that outcome...but why? The "how" has been beaten to DEATH around here, but never the answer to why we want that.

I gave an analogy on another post about analog vs digital being similar to barbeque with propane or charcoal. I think a similar analogy could be assumed with older muscle cars vs newer. The arguments could be that newer muscle cars are faster, more reliable, more economical, more stable, yada yada, but many (including me) prefer the older muscle cars nonetheless. Why...given all the pro's of new cars, why why why?

For me personally, I grew up with them, learned work on them, my father had them, my friends had them, etc. Science aside, i just simply like them for what they are despite the fact there are more imperfections to their design than new cars.
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Old 10-21-2019, 03:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poetnprophet View Post
there's a console6 now

To the OP, you didn't answer your own question: why bother in the first place? I'm genuinely curious what the consensus is on that exact question because it seems like we are all chasing that outcome...but why? The "how" has been beaten to DEATH around here, but never the answer to why we want that.

I gave an analogy on another post about analog vs digital being similar to barbeque with propane or charcoal. I think a similar analogy could be assumed with older muscle cars vs newer. The arguments could be that newer muscle cars are faster, more reliable, more economical, more stable, yada yada, but many (including me) prefer the older muscle cars nonetheless. Why...given all the pro's of new cars, why why why?

For me personally, I grew up with them, learned work on them, my father had them, my friends had them, etc. Science aside, i just simply like them for what they are despite the fact there are more imperfections to their design than new cars.
Just for clarification, do you feel that analogue summing is definitely a different sound to digital but you're just asking why he would prefer one sound over the other?

To be clear, I'm genuinely asking as a question, I have no hidden assumption or anything

I personally have never compared an analogue summed mix to digital so I don't know. One assumption I would make is that it surely has to be very subtle for anyone to want to blanketly add it to a mix regardless of context.
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Old 10-21-2019, 03:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Just for clarification, do you feel that analogue summing is definitely a different sound to digital but you're just asking why he would prefer one sound over the other?

To be clear, I'm genuinely asking as a question, I have no hidden assumption or anything

I personally have never compared an analogue summed mix to digital so I don't know. One assumption I would make is that it surely has to be very subtle for anyone to want to blanketly add it to a mix regardless of context.
yes, I'm merely asking the question to everyone: why do we like one over the other? I think we can all agree there is a difference, both on paper and in our ears. And I think we can all agree that we prefer one to the other. I was just asking the OP (and everyone) to elaborate on the opening question: why bother with analog summing?
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Old 10-21-2019, 03:17 PM   #6
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From many tests to all the plugins for the job i ended up buying the Waves NLS because it has nice sound and features like controlling all buses channels in one instance of the plugin.

My thoughts on this are , try for yourself and listen what is best for what you do.

My second choice would be maybe the airwindows toTape5, works great for the purpose you´re looking for and it´s free.
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Old 10-21-2019, 03:49 PM   #7
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Here are some I use to get a "sound" that I like. How and where will depend on the material, but it's always a combination of everything here. Where it goes in the signal chain also matters.

Waves NLS is really good for some of that "sound"...but there is a small PDC hit if that matters.

Airwindows ToTape, Channel, Console, IronOxide can all contribute as well...without any PDC or CPU hit.

Waves SSL Channel and CLA 76 can impart some "sound" also without any other
EQ or comp processing...and low latency.

Slate Virtual Tape can do a lot, sometimes too much....huge latency though.

FabFilter Saturn, Izotope Exciter have some decent distortions if used subtly.
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Old 10-21-2019, 04:11 PM   #8
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I can't think of any reason to use a "summing mixer". There's a reason banks don't "sum" your bank account with analog computers...


If you like the feel and human interaction of an analog mixer (a regular full-mixer with faders, etc.) it might be worthwhile. It will add some noise. If you can't hear the noise I suppose that's not a problem but if you can hear added noise that's not a "benefit".


Quote:
Things like extended width, clarity, separation, punch, fatness, smoothing, rounding.


So, it all comes down to: stereo image, filtering, saturation/distortion. ITB we have EQ, Waveshaping, stereo imaging plugins.
That's mostly nonsense. If it alters the "width" or reduces separation, there's something terribly wrong with it!


Let's talk about "real things" like frequency response, noise, and distortion. All analog electronics add some noise. Frequency response and distortion should be better than human hearing unless you drive it into saturation/distortion.


If you do saturate it, that's kind of hard to control and different amplifiers will saturate differently so you may, or may not, like the effect. Most solid state circuits will hard-clip just like digital clipping, except guitar amplifiers and some preamps are designed to have some "character" when overdriven.
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Old 10-21-2019, 05:41 PM   #9
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So... It can be done. You could create digital models of transistors/tubes/opamp mixer circuits and emulate their thermal, shot and brownian noise, distortion characteristics, capacitor effects, etc.

"Why" is another question altogether. I suppose the easiest way to get your feet wet would be to try the Harrison Mixbus, for mixing down your stems or whatever, which is reputed to have some of that magic stuff happening.

I actually have the capability of doing out-of-the-box mixes through my console, but don't... On the pure analog side, I occasionally (rarely) run stems into & back out of a 4 track reel machine, or single channels through a Gates Level Devil or an old MXR bucket brigade echo, but that's about it.

On the plugin side, I have a fairly large collection of mastering plugins that go by various names: leveling amp, saturator, tape emulator, tube emulator, etc. These usually do a great job adding that little bit of magic spice on the 2-bus during mastering, without resorting to trying to emulate an entire analog mixer.

Different people accept and learn to work with different things. No rules... If it gets the results you want, it must be working...
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Old 10-21-2019, 07:53 PM   #10
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What does analog summing sound like?
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Old 10-21-2019, 07:57 PM   #11
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What does analog summing sound like?
Technically-speaking, muffled and distorted. :P

/ducks and runs away
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Old 10-21-2019, 08:26 PM   #12
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Exactly, which is why I use a Pulsifier Module and a Soft Clip on any AUX Channel.
You add that on every channel until you get the cumulative effect desired.
But if you like adding cool new pictures of consoles and hardware to your collection of other pictures thats fun too I guess.
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Old 10-22-2019, 02:01 AM   #13
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It's not something that interests me, but for anyone wanting to save some money here is Eric Valentine showing how he made his own summing box, in a fair amount of detail. Apparently straight summing doesn't cut it; you need a few cascading stages of summing:

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Old 10-22-2019, 02:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVDdoug View Post
I can't think of any reason to use a "summing mixer". There's a reason banks don't "sum" your bank account with analog computers...


If you like the feel and human interaction of an analog mixer (a regular full-mixer with faders, etc.) it might be worthwhile. It will add some noise. If you can't hear the noise I suppose that's not a problem but if you can hear added noise that's not a "benefit".


That's mostly nonsense. If it alters the "width" or reduces separation, there's something terribly wrong with it!


Let's talk about "real things" like frequency response, noise, and distortion. All analog electronics add some noise. Frequency response and distortion should be better than human hearing unless you drive it into saturation/distortion.


If you do saturate it, that's kind of hard to control and different amplifiers will saturate differently so you may, or may not, like the effect. Most solid state circuits will hard-clip just like digital clipping, except guitar amplifiers and some preamps are designed to have some "character" when overdriven.
Slight variations in frequency/phase (can't change one without the other, unless using LP EQ) can do a lot to increase perceived stereo width. Easy enough to do ITB if you have a plugin with separate L/R controls, or process stereo tracks and busses as separate L&R mono channels.
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Old 10-22-2019, 02:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
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What does analog summing sound like?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvvA5DMvTiA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZuQfrofjMs
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Old 10-22-2019, 02:44 AM   #16
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Here's quite a good one.

Close your eyes and guess which is which. I can't hear when it switches, though I'm on headphones right now.

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Old 10-22-2019, 02:58 AM   #17
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Here's quite a good one.

Close your eyes and guess which is which. I can't hear when it switches, though I'm on headphones right now.

On my a77x I hear a slightly larger soundstage. BTW this was done with a dangerous 2bus which is an older version.
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:26 AM   #18
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There's Satson and Britson. I use and love them
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:55 AM   #19
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Love this people that have no clue what they are saying...they just answer based on youtube videos or comments that read on gearslutz! For those Guys, do yourself a favor If you don´t have anything positive to say to the man who did the question, just stfu.
Next time you don't like the comments other people make on a forum thread, do yourself a favour and stfu.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:04 AM   #20
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Oh, and there's only one plugin that can really be said to be doing "summing" - Airwindows Console.

I did a number of null tests on the first version, and it definitely is doing something. How close or far that is from a console summing bus, I can't say.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:26 AM   #21
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I like the sound of summing through soundcraft mixer. It definitley adds some vibe. Plus it's eq's really destroy any digital eq's i've heard for boosting. Also just the bit of drive you can get by pushing the channels is really good too. Distortion is something that is harder to do in the digital domain, but they've gotten a lot better at it.


I wonder.. On a not so perfect mixer like mine, is there some kind of intermodular distotion going on (i think that's the right term) between channels? Like cross-modulation in a synth? Do the channels effect each other beyond just crosstalk?
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:42 AM   #22
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As a last sweetening step in a mix, I usually drive my busses and master through Waves NLS. It gives a nice coloration/saturation to my mixes, glues everything together and adds some fatness to the overall sound.
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:12 AM   #23
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I like the sound of summing through soundcraft mixer. It definitley adds some vibe. Plus it's eq's really destroy any digital eq's i've heard for boosting. Also just the bit of drive you can get by pushing the channels is really good too. Distortion is something that is harder to do in the digital domain, but they've gotten a lot better at it.


I wonder.. On a not so perfect mixer like mine, is there some kind of intermodular distotion going on (i think that's the right term) between channels? Like cross-modulation in a synth? Do the channels effect each other beyond just crosstalk?
I don't know, but from the Airwindows site:

Quote:
I’ve been working in this area for some time, and one thing people always ask for is analog crosstalk. Sometimes the conversations got extremely technical and heavy, with trained electrical engineers trying to convince me of the significance of varying buss input impedances, which wouldn’t be a huge deal in a well-designed console so far as I know…

Following one such thought experiment out, I figured out that if this was happening, a channel would distort easier if it was looking into a buss that was out of phase with it, because other channels would present negative impedances and pull some of the energy that would’ve gone to the output. In normal DAWs (and normal DAWs are working DAWs- doing crazy things to their software is a recipe for trouble) you can’t have the channels talking to each other like that, plus it could produce extraordinary CPU demands.

But what if there was a way to make a channel come across more distorted if it was feeding an out of phase buss, and less distorted if everything was in phase? The experiment was this: pre-distort all the channels in a calibrated way (like traditional tape noise reduction systems), sum everything, and then undistort it- apply negative distortion.
https://www.airwindows.com/console2/
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:14 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solarfall View Post
Suggestions about which plugins to use?
Quote:
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So, something occurred to me that might be of interest to Console fans...

Now that his code is open source, maybe it would be possible to create a multichannel VST of Console and Buss in one, so that all tracks could be sent on different audio channels to the plugin. I guess all you'd need would be an input and output slider, the rest would be black box. You could stick it on your master bus and this would mean it would process all tracks post-fader so you could still use all your REAPER mixer faders too...

You'd just have to create post-fader sends and disable master/parent sends on all tracks.

Am I on to something?
https://forum.cockos.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=103
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:38 AM   #25
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well, maybe you guys right. sorry. ( for real)

EDIT: Deleted
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Old 10-22-2019, 08:27 AM   #26
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well, maybe you guys right. sorry. ( for real)

EDIT: Deleted
No hard feelings.

Deleted my reply.
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:11 AM   #27
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In the early part of this century, everybody was going nuts about these boxes that were pretty much just jacks connected by resistors and maybe a set of switches that cost silly amounts of money. I made a joke at the time about a Virtual Analog Summing plugin. Not saying I’m a prophet, but...
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:20 AM   #28
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It's not all black and white and analog summing isn't always used as a distortion box.

I think in the early days of DAW work - 1990's when there were 16 bit fixed point systems (early Protools in other words) - you had examples of analog signal paths that exceeded the quality and dynamic range of the digital system. Dense subgroup submixes were preserved better with class A analog technology.

There's other stuff going on...
Sometimes you want to do something to a submix instead of the individual sources. This can be another version of that.

Some people still use some of their analog gear with a comfortable workflow they've had for a long time. Maybe they could duplicate it with digital technique but... it works now and sounds right. Or maybe they're wrong... But the wrongness results in a 2% fidelity reduction and it just doesn't matter. Vs. having to dial up a new digital workflow and NOW there's problems because this involves more screwing around to get back to the comfort zone.

It's more convoluted now...
There's a reason for the "Youtube watchers don't know what the hell they're talking about" quip. You see grifter products nowadays like a cheapo (not even class A circuits let along quality analog components) summing amp that would pale next to the cheapest Behringer DAC. Not quite apples to apples anymore with that.

I don't want to be too quick to dismiss anything that works for someone but I can really understand the motivation to suggest mistakes were made and to take a look at the digital technology again.
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:20 AM   #29
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I used the Burl B32 and the phoenix audio. I Loved the burl. Sucha great unit. Makes summing perfect sense. Other units are really snake oil like you said.
Virtually i like the NSL and the Airwindows.
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:21 AM   #30
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I've not attempted analogue summing, but I do like to use console emus like Britson or bx_console N. I use Britson on all channels and busses.

It does soften things in a nice, subtle way. You can push it into audible saturation, but it's mostly quite silky. The bx_console N is a bit more aggressive.

I do it because I like the sound. Saturation is my friend.

Having said that, I have a theory that when most of us amateurs talk about "analogue saturation," we're actually referring to tape for the most part. The high end loss from tape is significant. We don't have that in digital. You hear exactly what you tracked. You might try a gentle high/low pass filter on your channels/busses to see if that doesn't give you something of the "softness" we are told analogue summing does.
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:38 AM   #31
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An advice i can give is, mix to the summing, don´t use the summing after you´re done with the mix. Many things change, they really do!
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Old 10-22-2019, 10:31 AM   #32
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An advice i can give is, mix to the summing, don´t use the summing after you´re done with the mix. Many things change, they really do!
Yeah, everyone seems to agree on that.
In the meantime, i'm working on a Reaper Analog Summing Mixer XD
I'll keep you posted.
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Old 10-22-2019, 10:38 AM   #33
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Yeah, everyone seems to agree on that.
In the meantime, i'm working on a Reaper Analog Summing Mixer XD
I'll keep you posted.
JSFX ?
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:10 AM   #34
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There's Satson and Britson. I use and love them
Same here.
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:17 AM   #35
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I recently tried the saike tahn saturator anti-aliased and i´ve created an FXchain using the JS spliter and mixer to make a multiband saturator. I found that using those i got pretty good results on buses.
Just a quick tip.
All JS reaper stuff, low latency and nice results.
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:19 AM   #36
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Here's my first attempt. I used only stock plugins and js. Nothing fancy, give it a try and let me know what you like and what you don't like. How can it be improveed?
You have the classic 16 channels witch you can feed as you want. Split your mix as you would on a real analog summing device.
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Old 10-22-2019, 12:26 PM   #37
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It's not the summing in itself, it's the electronics the audio go through. Hi-end analog still beats digital, no doubt about that.
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Old 10-22-2019, 12:46 PM   #38
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I rather get an analog 2 bus compressor or a couple of Klark Pultecs to sum the stereo bus. But there are cheap 8 channel passive summing boxes out there, too (Unit Audio Micro Unit).

Analog mastering really does wake up the track.
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Old 10-22-2019, 01:04 PM   #39
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Its great and represents very well a possible summing situation. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-22-2019, 01:21 PM   #40
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Its great and represents very well a possible summing situation. Thanks for sharing.
That's great to hear! How do you like the three parallel processors?
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